Daniel Moore

The Giveaway

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Daniel Moore has had his greatest successes as a songwriter, and his two most successful songs both emerged in 1973, when Three Dog Night took "Shambala" into the Top Ten and B.W. Stevenson followed a couple of months later with "My Maria," which he and Moore co-wrote. Those two songs, particularly "My Maria," remade for a number one country hit by Brooks & Dunn in 1996, are Moore's long-term annuities, but he has also placed songs with a large number of artists over the years. He revisits many of those songs, along with some newer ones, on his self-released The Giveaway, apparently taking his original demos, dating back as far as the early '70s, and beefing them up with overdubs in at least some cases. That makes the disc something of a retrospective for the songwriter, and it demonstrates that his style has been ideal for the artists who have favored his work, notably mainstream rockers like Joe Cocker and Bonnie Raitt, who like to mix in elements of blues and funk with their pop/rock style. Moore is not a distinctive lyricist, sticking to romantic subjects or vaguely spiritual, simplistically philosophical exhortations expressed in relatively few words. Nor is he a great melodist. But he is a craftsman steeped in folk and blues forms, capable of finding a new twist to create a song that sounds both effortless and timeless. As a singer, he is competent and enthusiastic, and these are finished recordings, but they still seem like demos in the sense that, to be really effective, they would need accomplished interpreters such as Cocker and Raitt (or Thelma Houston or Maria Muldaur, who also recorded certain selections). Also, this is music of a specific time; it sounds like mainstream rock of the mid-'70s, sometimes quite specifically so. For example, "Who's Gonna Play the Harp" comes off as if it had been written deliberately to be the follow-up to the Allman Brothers Band's 1973 hit "Ramblin' Man," right down to the Dickey Betts-like vocal and twin guitar solo. That may make this album a good purchase for fans of any of the artists mentioned in this review, although it will demonstrate to those fans exactly what artists like Cocker and Raitt bring to the material they perform.

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